Best Places to Travel After a Divorce
“I went through a bad divorce with a lot of heartache,” says Lucie Muns, who went surfing in Costa Rica following her split. She found the ocean healing and the all-female Surf Diva camp filled with supportive surfers—many were also nursing breakup wounds. Her advice: “Disconnect from the immediate place of heartache, whether you go five or 3,000 miles away.”
Travelers know that a change of environment helps clear your head and rejuvenate your spirit, and for the newly single, there’s the added benefit of putting some physical space between you and your ex. Instead of rehashing what went wrong or revisiting the same old haunts, why not start calculating your award miles and plot a getaway.
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“Trips are often the ideal dose of momentum that people need to deal with life challenges and changes,” affirms Leigh Weinraub, M.A., a well-being specialist at Miraval Spa in Tucson, AZ, where you can pair adrenaline-pumping activities like rock climbing with healing treatments and personal counseling. It’s just one of the places we uncovered—most with single accommodation options—where you can rebound from a bad romance. The first step is identifying what’s right for you.
Need to get out some aggression? Try off-roading in Vermont’s Green Mountains, or to sweat it out, sign up for a communal yoga retreat in the Bahamas. If you’d rather tune out distractions and tune into yourself, head for a Canadian cabin with no cell-phone service, or soak in the restorative powers of natural hot springs just outside of Telluride, CO. When you’re ready to emerge, consider volunteering. Helping others is a sure way to gain perspective after a breakup; the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms network makes it affordable to do so in India and other far-flung destinations.
Even notoriously romantic destinations like Italy can be liberating if you’re coming out of a divorce, especially if you embrace a fresh way of traveling, such as joining a singles-only bike tour through Piedmont wine country.
Still, there are some places you’d be wise to avoid—honeymoon hot spots or anywhere that you might have traveled with your former flame. After all, salt is for rubbing onto the margarita glasses, not into the wounds.
De-stress, improve circulation, and increase your energy in the natural restorative hot springs (85–105 degrees) at Dunton Hot Springs, a former mining town in the picturesque Colorado Rockies. Packed with calcium, iron, magnesium, and a “dash” of lithium, the waters are yours to enjoy alfresco or in a 19th-century bathhouse. There are 12 log cabins as well as safari-style tents available down the road at Cresto Ranch, a sister property opening in June 2013.
Cycle past scenic vineyards and hill towns on Backroads’ new six-day Singles-Solos tour of Piedmont, which delivers Italy’s charms without the risk of honeymooners in your tour group. You’ll stop at a 10th-century castle that now serves as a wine cellar, the hot springs of Acqui Terme, and Monforte d’Alba, known for the nebbiolo grape used to produce Barolo wine. Accommodations include a 16th-century monastery-turned-hotel, and you can swap tips with fellow bikers at facebook.com/backroads4singles before you depart.
Kamalame Cay, Bahamas
While honeymooners have long been courted by resorts, lately divorcées have suitors, too. And they don’t get much more desirable than Kamalame Cay, a secluded complex of 19 villas on a sandy, three-mile spit off of Andros Island. Its Le Divorce package includes a snorkeling trip or fishing excursion as well as a treatment at the overwater resort spa. Note your cocktail, music, and author preferences on the resort's “vice and virtue” form in advance, then prepare for sneaky surprises throughout your stay.
Kemptville, Nova Scotia, Canada
At Trout Point Lodge, there are no room keys, TVs, or cell-phone service, meaning that the only person finding you is you. Search for black bears, moose, or flying squirrels in the Tobeatic Wilderness, or try your hand at the cooking school to learn how to cure seafood and forage for chanterelles, black trumpets, and lobster mushrooms. After dinner, an on-staff astronomer will point out constellations and, depending on the season, the aurora borealis.
Nola is famous for good times, and many of those involve live music. The annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival brings big-name acts to the city each spring. But you can count on soul-satisfying R&B, Cajun, zydeco, bluegrass, and jazz whatever the season. Bring your friends along and bunk up in a cool Airbnb rental. A modern, airy studio a block from Bourbon Street and bathed in white accommodates two guests; a converted 1918 gas station in Bayou St. John can handle four; and a Greek Revival townhouse in the Lower Garden District has room for you and five best friends.
La Jolla, CA
You can literally leave your problems on land when you embark on Surf Diva’s five-day Surf School. “When we ride a wave, we conquer our fears,” says founder Izzy Tihanyi of the female-only classes offered. It’s empowering and just plain fun. Located at La Jolla Shores, Surf Diva is within walking distance from the chic Hotel La Jolla, which relaunched in summer 2012, and about a 15-minute drive from downtown San Diego.
Helping others is a sure way to gain perspective after a breakup—and the WWOOF network (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) makes it affordable to do so in far-flung destinations. The India program lets you and others from around the globe volunteer at a sustainable farm in a remote region of India, where you learn ayurvedic growing techniques (some sites are in tribal villages or adjacent to a tiger reserve). Harvest crops such as coconuts, sugarcane, and mangoes four to six hours a day in exchange for accommodation and unforgettable stories.
Rock climb, walk a tightrope, or swing on a zipline—all while soaking up the desert’s feel-good sunshine and getting a little life advice at the Miraval Resort & Spa. According to Leigh Weinraub, one of the well-being specialists, these activities "enable people to face fears and, in turn, grow." And you’re not alone: about 25 percent of guests schedule private counseling for relationship advice. Highlights of the spa’s lengthy yoga menu include Forgiveness and Loving Kindness meditations.
Being single doesn’t mean you need to experience a new destination alone. Why not join other thrill-seekers in search of pink dolphins, squirrel monkeys, and sloths aboard International Expeditions’ 10-day tour of the Amazon River, Rio Ucayali, and Pacaya-Samiria Reserve. Nighttime wildlife excursions, a visit to a local Ribereño village, and a chance to catch a red-breasted piranha are highlights. A 31-passenger riverboat, La Estrella Amazonica, debuts this summer with cabins built specifically for single travelers, meaning that there’s no additional supplement for boarding alone.
Let off steam at Equinox Resort’s Land Rover Driving School while refining off-road winching and recovery techniques on an 80-acre, boulder-covered course in the scenic Green Mountains. You can learn how to perform ascents, descents, side tilts, and log-and-creek crossings in the latest model Land Rover. After getting out some aggression, retreat to the stately 19th-century hotel, which counts four former presidents—and Mrs. Lincoln—as guests.
Coral Gables, FL
Whether refining your culinary talents or learning the basics, the Biltmore Hotel’s Culinary Academy is a cathartic way to gain skills, meet new people, and be part of lively group meals. The three-day boot camp, taught by chef Lourdes Castro, starts with kitchen organization; by day three, you’ll be braising short ribs and serving stewed pork with a smoky chipotle sauce. All this with the retro glamour that comes with a stay at the Biltmore (est. 1926), where you can unwind after class by the opulent pool or in a Frette robe back in your room.
Drown your sorrows in this beautiful canal city, where the art and food scenes are thriving. The Rijksmuseum (site of Rembrandt’s Night Watch) reopened in April 2013 after a 10-year renovation, and nearby, the Van Gogh Museum holds the largest collection of paintings by the artist in the world. Continue your museum hopping at the Stedelijk Museum, which displays works by Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, and Jackson Pollock. Stop by the Noordermarkt organic market on Saturdays for fresh herbs and cheese, and afterward, savor apple cake at Winkel 43. For New Amsterdam cuisine (codfish, hare, and an entire menu dedicated to asparagus), try Bolenius, then retreat back to the high-design hotel Andaz on the Prinsengracht.
With a 44 percent single population, San Francisco is one of the least committed of big cities—so you’ll blend right in. New to town is the 35,000-square-foot SFJAZZ Center. It’s in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, full of trendy boutiques and restaurants. Base yourself downtown at the funky (and pet-friendly) Hotel Triton, where solo travelers have the option to book one of the Zen Dens, with a daybed, mechanical wind chimes, bamboo plants, and yoga mats.
Pacuare Gorge, Costa Rica
The only way to reach the thatch-roofed Rios Tropicales Lodge, along the Pacuare River, is by foot or water—or with tour operator Anywhere Costa Rica. A four-day whitewater excursion will get your adrenaline pumping while braving Class Four rapids, ziplining through the rainforest’s canopy, and hiking to nearby waterfalls.
Santa Fe, NM
New Mexico’s magnetic colonial city draws all kinds of seekers, and its quirky, sunbaked locals will put you quickly at ease. You can browse contemporary New Mexican art at the Railyard and Native American crafts on Canyon Road. It’s a short stroll from there to the Inn on the Alameda, where 71 secluded adobe rooms (request one with a kiva fireplace) face a flower-filled courtyard.
Paradise Island, Bahamas
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat provides both the structure and support to nudge you in a more positive direction. A typical day begins with a 6 a.m. wake-up for meditation, chanting, and mandatory asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (yogic breathing techniques). Dine on lacto-vegetarian meals (no eggs, onion, or garlic), then it’s more yoga and satsang meditation and, if you choose, sessions like the Yoga of Relationships and Healing Your Heart Through Kirtan. No matter what type of accommodation you prefer—tents, dormitories, beachside suites—lights go out at 10 p.m.
Penobscot Bay, ME
If you’re in need of a longer soul-searching sabbatical, the sleepy, pine-shaded town of North Haven is just the place. (It’s a scenic one-hour ferry ride from Rockland.) Set yourself up in a rental home, perhaps this modern one-bedroom overlooking the Fox Islands Thoroughfare, or in one of the cozy rooms at Nebo Lodge, where your meals are in the expert hands of chef Amanda Hallowell.
Immerse yourself in the culture of “poor but sexy” Berlin—and make friends at Plus Berlin, a designer hostel that offers perks such as a swimming pool, a bar, and lots of travel camaraderie. Share a room or, for more privacy, opt for a bed in the new, female-only wing, stocked with hair straighteners and dryers.
Companies have taken notice of the recent uptick in solo travel: single supplement charges are on the decline, and there are more single cabins available on trips such as Abercrombie & Kent's riverboat cruise of Burgundy. Your easy, breezy voyage through wine country begins in Dijon and winds up in Saint-Léger-sur-Dheune.
On the easternmost tip of Long Island, Montauk has long been a weekend escape for East Coasters looking to ride waves. With a growing art scene and a recent influx of high-end boutiques and restaurants, the town appeals to a more diverse crowd. To soak up Montauk’s swanky side, check in to the Montauk Beach House, known for its live DJs, fashion shows, and private beach club. If you round up five friends, the affordable Bunker Den is all yours.
Airstream Camper, USA
Miles of open highway and a groovy playlist are guaranteed to clear your head, and driving across country is one way to assert your newfound independence. Combine visits to friends with stops at all-American attractions (Niagara Falls, the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon). If you hitch a throwback Airstream trailer to your car and toss in a sleeping bag, you can get the added thrill of camping out in national parks.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Finally get your PADI certification or, for expert scuba divers, attempt the Blue Hole on the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. At Cayo Espanto, a private island three miles off of the tip of Ambergris Caye, each of seven bungalows has its own pier jutting into the Caribbean—meaning that you won't have to go far to get started.
Melbourne consistently ranks among the top cities for quality of living, and it won’t take long for you to appreciate the good life here. Divide your time between the contrasting neighborhoods of the CBD, where museums and historic sites are concentrated, and edgier Fitzroy. At Cutler & Co., a former factory in Fitzroy, pigeon and smoked hen's eggs are on the menu; should you crave salt cod and eggs, try Builders Arms Hotel.
Barefoot Offshore Sailing School empowers beginners to learn how to maneuver, trim sails, and skipper a large sailboat in the Caribbean during its women-only sailing programs (there are co-ed options, too). Each night, expect to drop anchor in a different bay and bunk aboard the 36-foot vessel.
Singapore is safe and sanitized, with many fluent English-speakers and expats, making it easy to navigate for solo travelers and first-time visitors to Asia. Get your bearings with panoramic views from a telescope high atop ION Orchard, site of 335 boutiques and restaurants. Explore the futuristic Gardens by the Bay park, and get a taste of the city’s irreverent side at the hip New Majestic Hotel in Chinatown.
Whistling Arrow promises a trip that will change your attitude (as well as altitude). “The quest to purify a lifetime of negative karma,” as the company describes it, is a 17-day climb through the Himalayas, past remote villages and the ancient forests of Tibet's Kawa Karpo peak (or “white pillar” in Tibetan). It literally begins and ends in Shangri-La.
Get a novel perspective on Edinburgh, Glasgow, and St. Andrews from a cabin onboard Scotland Railways. You can take a train to Glamis Castle (where the queen mum grew up), to Glen Ord Distillery for single malts, or Chanonry Point to glimpse seals. If you prefer a schedule that’s planned for you, and have time and money to burn, book one of the single cabins on the Orient-Express, instead.